THE GOOD NEWS: Jesus really is the answer to our needs

Rev. Logn Landes
The Rev. Logan Landes

Jesus is right on the cusp of his crucifixion. Imagine all that would be on Jesus’ mind. Christ had a mission, and he could not be distracted from it. But Christ is swarmed by crowds as he passes through Jericho. And as they swarm him, his name gets used. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus hears that it’s Jesus of Nazareth and he knows. He needs to go get his attention. He calls out, "Son of David, son of David!"

What can we learn from this outburst? Bartimaeus was a believer. Son of David was a Messianic title. This blind beggar believed Jesus to be the Messiah, the Son of God. But the crowds shush Bartimaeus. Don’t bother Jesus. The crowd determined by their own reason that Bartimaeus was not worthy of Jesus’ attention. Jesus can’t be distracted by him.

Was the crowd right? Was Bartimaeus unworthy of addressing Jesus Christ? They were right. Bartimaeus was a wretched sinner. It had nothing to do with his blindness, poorness, smelliness, or whatever else the crowds saw in Bartimaeus. The issue was that Bartimaeus was a fallen sinner. And therefore, he was unworthy to receive Christ’s attention or favor. But what does the crowd seem to be overlooking? Just as Bartimaeus is a sinner, so are all people. Jesus should be walking through the city entirely alone because no sinner has the worth to be in his presence.

Thankfully, Jesus was not sent to condemn the world, but to save it. Jesus does what the crowds never expected. He tells his disciples to go get Bartimaeus and bring him to him. Out of all the noise and in the midst of his deep thoughts as he headed toward his crucifixion, Jesus hears Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus isn’t a distraction, but rather, Bartimaeus and all sinners are Jesus’ focus. They’re the reason why he’s going to the cross.

Bartimaeus asks for his sight to be restored. Jesus goes even deeper than curing blindness. Our English translations of this text fall short of the real meaning. In English it reads, “your faith has made you well.” But in Greek, the word actually means saves you. Jesus is worried about his eternal life. He wants to deal with the sin that would lead Bartimaeus to everlasting death. Rather than only curing blindness, he assures Bartimaeus that his faith has saved him. In other words, Jesus forgave him his sins right then and there. For that’s what salvation is. The curing of sin. Bartimaeus was right to place his trust in the Son of David and received even more than he was asking for.

Our sinful nature and Satan continue to accuse and remind us that we’re horrible sinners. And that’s true. They try to convince us that we have no business calling to Jesus and that he shouldn’t pay any attention to us. But they’re wrong.

Christ hears us. Even when our own guilt and lostness can’t find the words to pray, Christ hears even the groanings of our heart. He took all that makes us unworthy, and he killed it alongside himself on the cross. And by baptism and faith he has given us his righteousness. And by it we are made worthy. Christ became the unworthy one, so much that God literally abandoned him alone on the cross, so that we could become the worthy ones.

In sin, we should be unworthy of Christ’s attention or care, but by faith, we are made worthy in Christ. God hears us, just as he heard Bartimaeus in that loud crowd, and he calls us to him. He knows what we need and promises to grant it to us according to the Father’s good will. And faith knows that the day is coming when Jesus will come in a final way to call us all to be with him forever. Not because we earned it. But because Christ earned it for us. he made us worthy to be called Children of the Heavenly Father. By his death and resurrection, he gives us the promise that our faith has made us well, or better put, our faith saves us.

The Rev. Logan Landes is assistant pastor at Grace Lutheran Church.